Saturday, February 6, 2016

breathing into paper bags

Well, hello.  It has been awhile.

You know the adage, "no news is good news?" It does apply in this situation. Mostly.

The past few months have been quite adventurous for our little family.  Instead of gifts for Christmas, we took an idyllic winter trip, just the 4 of us, to Cancun in December.  This vacation was just like pressing the reset button on life.  I highly recommend this.  (Although, when we booked the trip, the boys were going to miss a week of school since we opted to go prior to the high season of travel...after I breathed into a paper bag for a couple of hours, talked to myself in a corner while rocking back and forth about the make up work, I got over it--and I am so glad I did!)

We did some amazing things as a family.  We all snorkeled for the first time; swam with dolphins; Isaac even ate shrimp.  SHRIMP, people.  He ATE THEM. We rode Mexican buses, fed sea turtles, sat on the roof and looked for meteors.  It was a trip that will forever be embedded in our memories, and will produce topics of conversation around the dinner table when we have grandbabies.  I would say that's a gift that keeps giving. 

Isaac also celebrated his 9th birthday, to which I also breathed into a paper bag for a couple of hours, talked to myself in a corner while rocking back and forth pondering how my baby is 9.  After getting some LEGO sets and completing them in record time, Isaac announced, "this is my favorite birthday." He is entitled to this opinion, since his birthday falls around the holidays, he gets, oh, about 4 birthdays over a two week period.  He took cupcakes in to his class to celebrate in January, so just think about that for a second.  Whoever said having a birthday the week of Christmas wasn't useful didn't have a clue.

We also had our share of trials, because, let's remember, this is life and we are human. 

Ethan had the flu which developed into a terrible case of pneumonia.  His first experience with an IV, a trip in an ambulance, and an overnight stay at the hospital was, for the most part, pleasant.  No one likes to see their children ill, and as a mom, it strikes a chord in your heart of hearts to not be able to put a Band-Aid on and kiss it to make it better.  I have to say, though, I had my handy-dandy paper bag to breathe into and a corner to rock in, so I was just fine. 

Two days before Ethan went to the hospital, we gutted our upstairs bathroom.  Then, in my wisdom, I thought I might as well finish Isaac's bedroom that I had wanted to do for months, because this is what you do when you binge watch HGTV with your sick kid who has been home for a week.  My husband and I are a great team, and when we start a project, we are usually good about completing it in a timely manner.  But, setbacks happens. Frustrations set in.  Now, things are a little chaotic and disheveled.  To top it off, my dear friend texted me to say that her little boy broke his leg and would be needing help. I wanted to be available, and struggled with feeling guilty about not having time. Paper bag, anyone?

Breathing is living.  When we aren't breathing correctly, we can't catch our breath.  We breathe into ridiculous paper bags that do nothing but rob us of oxygen--of life--and we get dizzy and lose focus.

The story of Job makes me cringe but it is in the Word of God for a reason.  Job 33:4 says "The Spirit of God has made me, and the breath of the Almighty has given me life."  Here is a man who suffered as no one could imagine.  His friends had nothing but empty things to say, and he himself found himself in a corner with a paper bag, trying to breathe the breath of man, and not of God. 

We were not made by ourselves. We cannot sustain ourselves. Breathing into paper bags is useless. There is no magical inward source of life that we can tap into apart from God. We are renewed and regenerated by the work of the Holy Spirit in us, and that's not according to what we do alone.  

The past few months have been a time for me to re-examine where my strength and source of life is found.  It isn't found in doing things for others (although this is wonderful).  It isn't found in having perfection (which is a daily struggle for me). It isn't found in control (because, why is this even a word?) My life comes from the Almighty.  He made me, and He alone sustains me. 

I pray the same goes for you.

Breathe in His truth, breathe out His grace.  Repeat.